See it if you have hours to visit with the Bard. Lots of impressive acting. Dazzling writing. Some clever staging. What you'd expect from the RSC.
Don't see it if you like Sh well cut. Every word is performed; some sections are dull. Part 1 is vastly superior to Part 2. Both are over three hours long.
See it if You want to see the masters of Shakespearean acting perform at their best! The best Falstaff that I have ever seen!
Don't see it if You do not understand Shakespeare or are too lazy to listen to every word spoken in a play.
See it if Are an Anglophile; Love Shakespeare; Have Yet to see the Royal Shakespeare Company
Don't see it if are expecting a full-scale home production (much doubling of roles; staging to mask the traveling company size)
See it if you have even the slightest interest in shakespeare. This is a glorious, visually stunning production of a play rarely performed in full.
Don't see it if you want unserious fluff or a musical [although there is music]. Don't worry - it's extremely funny too.
See it if If only for Sir Antony Sher. Wonderful, classic portrayal of Falstaff. Also for much of the cast. Very adept, appropriately moving and funny
Don't see it if You don't really understand why Falstaff is reveared or really dislike the character. Henry V has more action, Richard II has more drama.
See it if You are a Bard buff - this is what it's supposed to be. Not all casting is perfect but what's good is very good indeed
Don't see it if You don't like Shakespeare, long plays (3 hrs each), period pieces or historical dramas. This is heavy going if you're not up for it.
See it if you love a typically beautiful BAM Shakespeare production, plus a great Falstaff and a dashing Hal, though an unconvincing Hotspur
Don't see it if you hope for something edgy, unusual or inventive. BAM presents the usual sea of white male faces in beautiful costumes here
See it if you want to take advantage of the unique opportunity to see both parts of HENRY IV done brilliantly by the RSC. Anthony Sher is Falstaff.
Don't see it if You don't enjoy Shakespeare's history plays (?). I don't buy that reason, but someone may. In fact, I'm going again. Alex Hassell is Hal.
"While there are, among these mighty 12 hours of theater, inevitably some sluggish patches, the overall achievement here—which includes one of the greatest performances I’ve ever seen, Antony Sher’s Falstaff—is nothing short of magnificent...If you can only see one play, I’d endorse 'Henry IV, Part I'...Mr. Sher draws out Falstaff’s piteous poignancy, even as he makes fine sport of his more repellent qualities...Sher practically bursts his big belt from the sheer force of life he radiates."
"Although solidly designed, the epic presentation is anchored by world-class performances. Chief among these is Antony Sher’s magnificent Falstaff. Emphasizing the fat rogue as a seedy, posh-talking parasite, Sher waddles through the comedy and pathos like a woodcut imp, dissecting platitudes about honor and reverent old age."
"The installments pull too hard in different directions. Especially in the 'Henry IV' pair, which are probably the most popular of the bunch, the chaos of tone and genre uses up so much of the director’s energy that not much of the material makes an emotional impression. This even though Antony Sher shines as a commanding, endlessly listenable, and visually perfect Falstaff. Still, the more pointed the comedy, the less everything else makes sense."
"It’s a deeply rewarding — if also an inevitably taxing — experience...The large ensemble displays the high level of polish and ease with the verse for which the RSC is noted. The true standout is Antony Sher, delivering a landmark performance as Sir John Falstaff...These 'Henry' productions are always thoroughly competent if rarely galvanizing. But what they lack in imagination they make up for with intelligence and coherence...Those are qualities not to be taken lightly."
"There’s also a great fuss, and rightly so, over eminent British actor Antony Sher transforming into the ultimate clown, Falstaff, in the RSC’s 'Henry IV, Part 1' and 'Henry IV, Part 2.' Not surprisingly, Sher’s Falstaff is perhaps the most tragic you’ve ever seen – a drunk whose jokes and barbs mask an incurable emptiness. He provides ample comic relief, as expected, but his Falstaff is no mere (fat) joke."
"Meant for those who like to see Shakespeare plays performed by a seasoned cast, in a traditional style, with lavish production values and without any cuts to the text...Gregory Doran (artistic director of the RSC) stages the entire cycle with liveliness, medieval flair and textual clarity, bringing out multilayered performances from his large cast...Standouts include Antony Sher’s thoroughly detailed and sympathetic Falstaff, and Jasper Britton’s burly and uneasy Henry IV."
"Sher does not disappoint...Every line is perfectly timed. His audacious lies and tall tales are delivered with such relish that he regularly has the audience rolling in the aisles with just a passing glance. Yet there's sadness to Sher's Falstaff as well...'Henry IV, Part 2' is the most neglected play of the tetralogy...Much of the play's action feels like an excuse to give the audience more of their favorite character, the hilarious Falstaff."
“Performed in rotating repertory
with a cast of 31 accomplished British actors who continue in their roles in
each play in which their characters appear, the four productions all by
Gregory Doran, artistic director of the RSC, are lucid, absorbing and
accessible. Whether you get to see the plays in chronological order or just one of
these stand-alone plays, you will have an unforgettable experience in drama,
history and Shakespeare.”